I've wanted to write about the healthcare debate - a truly rending process for Catholics who are torn between care of the poor and a healthy subsidiarity. Personally, I think it's going to be bad either way. Probably, it will be worse if Obama gets his way.
I was talking to a friend the other day who owns a business in the Main South district of Worcester. He was talking about how "nonprofits control everything" in Main South. "They're great when it comes to helping out homeless people and drug addicts, but they don't understand business." For Main South to really rise from the muck of poverty and neglect in which it currently stands, it will take a healthy community - businesses, families, and institutions working together.
I think that it is a healthy criticism of the social change championed by President Obama to say that it is of the 'nonprofit' type. It helps people by alleviating suffering and giving a helping hand, but it is not necessarily encouraging of the healthy structures that should normally be supporting a neighborhood - namely families and businesses. In my opinion, the government should intercede in extreme cases, and allow normal structures to work, well, normally.
There was a time when healthcare was provided, free of charge, through the activities of charitable societies. In Catholic cultures, it was religious sisters that provided this care. In other cultures, charitable societies of lay women would provide care and compassion for the poor. This was a time of healthy community; not perfect, but people were more aware of the plight of their neighbor then compared to now.
In many ways charitable societies were less effective than the modern healthcare industry, but in others they were more - moslty in matters of personal attention and concern. We are far from this model now, not for any lack of material wealth. We are simply poor in community. We don't reach out anymore to the stranger in our midst.
I have a friend from Morocco. He says that in Morocco, the head of every family is expected to give away ten percent of his income every year. If they don't, there is a social stigma. I asked, "How do people know that someone has given away their ten percent?". He said, "People just know. Word get around." How refreshing.I have a friend from Morocco. He says that in Morocco, the head of every family is expected to give away ten percent of his income every year. If they don't, there is a social stigma. I asked, "How do people know that someone has given away their ten percent?". He said, "People just know. Word get around." How refreshing.
I think that President Obama's healthcare plan is misguided in its compassion. It will reach out to more of the poor, and even to the marginally poor. In the long run, it will increase the numbers of those who depend upon the State for care, and it will do nothing to increase the bonds between us - it will do nothing to strengthen the 'normal' bonds upon which communities depend for health and survival.
Communities take maintenance - you don't get something for nothing. Communities need to be organic - self-directing and maintaining. When help only comes from above, it is called Socialism. It is the death-knell for communities. The vitality of socialist countries is sapped as if by a cancer. They are eaten out from within. This is why subsidiarity is so important.
Think of what we could do if we turned off the TV once a week and waited on an elderly neighbor. We'd probably lose a bunch of weight (and reduce our future healthcare burden) and learn a little something about the past. You and me. We could do it. Together, we can. We could beat 'em to it. Together, we can.